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Obama retakes oath of office after Roberts' mistake

  • Story Highlights
  • President Obama retakes oath day after chief justice's mistake at inauguration
  • Wednesday's move aimed at erasing any question Obama is president
  • "Faithfully" was said out of sequence during Tuesday's oath
  • Roberts makes no comment over Tuesday's oath fumble
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama retook his oath of office Wednesday after Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed while delivering it at Tuesday's inauguration.

Barack Obama is pictured at the inauguration on Tuesday in Washington as Michelle Obama watches.

President Barack Obama takes the oath of office -- his second in two days -- in the White House on Wednesday.

The second oath -- also administered by Roberts -- took place at 7:35 p.m. Wednesday in the White House's Map Room. Roberts asked Obama whether he was ready.

"I am, and we're going to do it very slowly," Obama replied.

The do-over was aimed at dispelling any confusion that might arise from Tuesday's take -- in which "faithfully" was said out of sequence -- and erase any question that Obama is legally the president. Compare first and second attempts »

However, per the Constitution, Obama became president at noon Tuesday without taking the oath.

"We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the president was sworn in appropriately yesterday," White House counsel Greg Craig said Wednesday in a written statement.

"But the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of an abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time," the statement read.

On Tuesday, Roberts, apparently working without a copy of the oath handy on the Capitol steps, started out by reciting a six-word phrase, but Obama broke in halfway through and repeated the first three.

That seemed to throw the chief justice off stride, and he proceeded to mix up the order of the words in the next phrase.

The Constitution sets out the language that should be used in the oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Roberts moved the word "faithfully" back nine spots, and used "to" instead of "of." That threw the president off base, and he smiled and paused to collect his thoughts, then decided to follow Roberts' lead.

But the chief justice at the same time attempted to correct himself.

Here's how Tuesday's oath went:

Roberts: ... that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully ...

Obama: ... that I will execute ...

Roberts: ... the off -- faithfully the pres -- the office of president of the United States ...

Obama (at the same time): ... the office of president of the United States faithfully ...

The two got the rest correct, including the nonobligatory "So help you God?" "So help me God." Video Watch Tuesday's oath »

Reporters, bloggers and others weighed in on the flub. The New York Post offered this headline: "Roberts is the Oaf of Office."

A Washington Post reader complained in a letter to the editor: "What could have been a moment for the ages was marred by Mr. Roberts' thoughtlessness. News outlets will report that the first words of our new president were "confused." Whether through design or an amazing lack of preparation, Justice Roberts's behavior was a disgrace."

And Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said: "We're wondering here whether or not Barack Obama in fact is the president of the United States. They had a kind of garbled oath. It's just conceivable that this will end up going to the courts."

In a congressional luncheon after Tuesday's swearing-in, Roberts and Obama exchanged words, and the chief justice appeared to tell the president, "It was my fault."

Before Wednesday's second oath at the White House, Obama, waiting on a couch, joked that "we decided it was so much fun ... "

Though a Bible was used in Tuesday's oath, one was not used for Wednesday's.

After a flawless recitation, Roberts smiled and said, "Congratulations again."

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"Thank you, sir," the president replied. After a smattering of applause, Obama quipped that "the bad news for the [press] pool is there's 12 more balls."

Roberts has made no public comment on becoming tongue-tied Tuesday.

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